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From the March 2004 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 51, No. 3)

Americas

President Bush’s Immigration Reform Proposals

Comment and analysis from Sofia, Bogotá, Rome, Lagos, Paris, Bangkok, Budapest, and Mexico City

Mexican men and women cross the border into Texas illegally
Mexican men and women illegally cross the desert border between Texas and Mexico (Photo: Raul Llamas/AFP-Getty Images).
Sofia Dnevnik (conservative), Jan. 8: The strength of Bush’s move is that it transcends narrow political considerations. In the long run, the legalized immigrant workers may not gain suffrage, but they will at least get a chance to stay responsible and be a party to the U.S. social-insurance system at the precise moment when the baby boom generation will have to retire. From this point of view, such a pragmatic immigration policy looks much more farsighted than the European experience of constantly stretching the retirement age for the purpose of keeping aliens at bay.

Bogotá El Tiempo (centrist), Jan. 11: [The immigration reform proposal] is a good measure for the United States, for the immigrants, and for their home countries....There’s only one serious objection to Bush’s proposal: It is a mistake to limit the entry of immigrants to the availability of certain jobs where they fit....What’s the point of confining [an immigrant] to pick tomatoes for $6 an hour if he can make $25 doing something else? What enriches society is precisely the efficient assigning of resources that a free-market system allows.
—Carlos Alberto Montaner

Rome L’Unità (left-wing), Jan. 7: The United States needs immigrants. Not even fear of terrorism can change this reality, and President Bush has taken note of this need....The law is a plan that gives a little to poor people working illegally, whereas it gives a lot to companies exploiting them. The immigration law has raised protests from both the right and the left.
—Bruno Marolo

Lagos Daily Champion (independent), Jan. 15: President Bush said the new initiative represents a more viable economic option for the country, which currently needs to adopt a more compassionate immigration policy....The revolutionary proposal has obviously provoked a lot of public and media reactions, with the Hispanic and minority groups hailing it and the conservatives condemning it as a political ploy.
—Adeze Ojukwu

Paris Politis (alternative left-wing weekly magazine), Jan. 15: We were familiar with the limited-term work contract. Now George Bush is in the process of inventing limited-term nationality. If Congress gives the green light, millions of illegal aliens will receive a temporary work permit for three years. On the condition, of course, that they agree to do work that American citizens consider beneath them....In the philosophy of George Bush, the granting of nationality is entirely determined by the needs of the economy: legalize, then dump.
—Denis Sieffert

Bangkok Thai Rath (center-right, mass circulation), Jan. 14: [Both the moon space project] and the new immigration policy were part of President Bush’s electoral campaign. The latter was meant to woo the Latin American voters. Nobody knows how well this kind of campaign will work.
—Wimalee Wiwatanakulpanit

Budapest Magyar Nemzet (conservative), Jan. 9: Growing immigration is a fact that confronts authorities with questions that reach to their very philosophies: Should the United States’ gates be open to immigrants? Should they retain their cultures and languages? Does the continued growth of America depend on a continued liberal immigration policy?

Mexico City La Jornada (left-wing), Jan. 8: The initiative for conceding work permits to some undocumented workers in the United States for a renewable three-year period, presented yesterday by President George W. Bush, constitutes only an ambiguous, incomplete, and uncertain promise that does not respond to Mexico’s aspirations for a long-lasting, fair, and adequate immigration agreement.

Mexico City El Universal (conservative), Jan. 14: If approved by Congress, George W. Bush’s new immigration plan will serve to regulate the job market for immigrants who manage to get through the increasingly dense filters at the border, since once they are registered in this program and if they do not receive backing from their employer to renew their contract for three more years, their fate will be deportation to their country of origin....With the “carrot” of a three-year legal contract, undocumented migrant workers (at least 5 million) will be caught in the net of a mechanism that does not guarantee job security and, to the contrary, places them on a list for potential deportation.
—Rosa Albina Garavito Elías

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